Football preview: OCHS more athletic than CIF finalist

Ontario Christian lost five of its first six games last season, cycled through three offenses (and three QBs), scrambled to fill out a lineup thanks to a multitude of injuries and still the Knights reached the CIF-SS East Valley championship game. No matter the circumstances, it’s hard to count out OCHS.

It’s easy to count the Knights in this year. Despite returning just seven starters, head coach Laing Stevens thinks this team is faster, stronger, deeper and more athletic than the squad that lost the championship game by just six points to a St. Margaret’s team Aquinas coach Nick Matheny labeled “one of the best small school football programs in California.”

“Overall, there’s more athleticism this year than we had last year,” Stevens said. “This year’s team is actually stronger and faster across the board. And we have more across the front this year. That doesn’t mean we’re better but we won’t have to scramble when one guy goes down like we did last year.”

Though last season’s switch from the spread to the wing-T to the wildcat was mostly tailored to fit the personnel who wasn’t injured, much to opposing coaches’ delight, Stevens plans on gaining some continuity this year by sticking with the spread. Kyle Ellis, who finished out the 2009 season at quarterback, will be the full-time guy this year in front of sophomore T.J. Spykstra, who is winning the battle for the starting running back job.

There are a couple of additions to Ontario Christian’s league. 2009 CIF-SS Northeast Division champion Linfield Christian and Calvary Murrieta will join the existing members of the Christian League to form the Ambassador League. Stevens, however, doesn’t think much will change between the two teams that have finished first and second in the Christian League six years in a row: Aquinas and Ontario Christian.

“I don’t think the league is tougher necessarily but it has the unknowns of Linfield and Murrieta,” Stevens said. “I think we’ll battle it out for the league title with Aquinas again, unless Linfield is something special.”